Monday, February 19, 2018

Chile Oil Sauce Without Borders! (Simple and Delicious Sichuan-Style Dried Red Chili Oil, Relish)

How do I describe the deliciousness of Chile Oil Sauce "Without Borders"? Its toasty, spicy goodness from the two different kinds of peppers (Sichuan and Red) is great on any food, any cuisine - hence the title! We put it pretty liberally on Kanji, Pongal, Pizza, Pastas, Chinese dishes, Mexican food, etc, - anything at all that needs a flavor boost - really takes everything to another level of deliciousness. Stir a little of it into some mayo for a spicy spread for a sandwich or wrap!

Add Chile Oil Sauce to anything that needs a little zip - soups, stews, Dals, Curries, Veggies, Stir-fries, etc, etc - in fact any dish, any cuisine!

It is very easy to make but working with oil, a highly flammable material, you have to stay with it from start to finish. Once prepared the sauce should last a long time - if you don't gobble it all up, that is! Make sure to use a clean, dry, spoon to remove a portion for the recipe or meal; but do not return any unused part back into the original container. 

This recipe is my adaptation of a few different recipes; I made a few changes and tweaks to work for me - especially in reducing the copious amounts of oil some of the recipes use. Although I use the lower amount of oil so the sauce is still easily spoonable but not too oily (believe me, it still has plenty of oil!), you are welcome to use more of it if you wish. 

The spicy oil is very useful in cooking too. Drizzle a little to spice up roasted or stir-fried veggies or tofu instead or as part of the oil used depending on the level of spiciness you like.

I don't add ginger or garlic to this sauce; there is another sauce where I do use them. If you like the chile oil midler, use only half the amount or less of the red chile powder and flakes.

Ingredients:

Infused Oil:
¾  - 1 cup oil (mild flavored vegetable oil)
5 tablespoons Sichuan pepper (whole)
5 star anise (whole)
3 Tbsp Coriander seeds, whole
2 pieces - 2" - Cinnamon stick, preferably Indian 
3 Bay leaves, broken into 2-3 pieces

Chile Oil Sauce:
2 Tbsp Sichuan pepper - ground coarsely
½ cup Ground Red Chile (Hot Indian Chili Powder Or Cayenne)
½ cup crushed Red Chile flakes 
1½ - 2 teaspoons Salt (to taste)

Method:

First step: Make infused oil.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low - medium heat until hot but not smoking (add a piece of peppercorn - it should barely sizzle); some of the new stoves heat very efficiently so keep an eye on the oil carefully.

Add all spices listed under infused oil: the Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.

When the oil begins to bubble very slightly around the edges of the pan, turn the heat down to very low. The heat may need to be adjusted up or down so the oil stays warm but should not get too hot and burn.

Allow the oil mixture to cook for about 20 minutes so it becomes infused with the spices and herbs. Stay close by and keep a watch - oil is highly flammable!!

When the time is up, the spices and bay leaves should darken in color, but not turn black. Blackened = burned = not tasty but nasty!

Turn off heat and let cool undisturbed for 10 minutes; it is still hot so please handle carefully.

In another small saucepan, place the ground Sichuan pepper, red chile powder and red pepper flakes and salt.

Set a fine strainer set over the chile mixture in the saucepan; carefully and slowly pour the infused oil through the strainer into the saucepan

Discard the aromatic spices and herbs left in the strainer; they have done their job to impart their lovely flavors to the oil!

Heat and stir the chile sauce just until fragrant about a minute or so; the edges may begin to bubble  and foam a little; when foamy and fragrant, remove immediately from heat and let cool.

When completely cool, taste and adjust for salt, and transfer to a clean and dry jar, add a well-fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator. 

The sauce will keep fresh for up to 6 months (at our house it disappears long before that!) kept refrigerated and if you remember to use a clean, dry spoon to remove portions to serve. Do not put unused portions back into the jar.

Enjoy!!